2022 Ducati DesertX Review: First Day In The Desert

CarBuyer Team
2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - bike on the road cornering

Ducati’s first stab at a ‘proper’ adventure bike exceeds expectations with a package that feels ready to take you around the world

2022 Ducati DesertX 

Launched: August 2022 – Price: S$58,700 with COE, road tax, no insurance
Mid-weight adventure touring motorcycle
110hp, 937cc L-twin petrol engine

Exciting Dakar-derived design  
Flexible performance on/off-road
Ergonomically sound, lots of features

A big touring bike will eat tarmac miles better
Minor gearbox quibbles

Borgo Panigale, Bologna, Italy
Story by Deyna Chia

Ducati has dabbled in the dirt to date, but the DesertX dictates Ducati’s debut of a do-everything machine that can daringly dual-sport in deserted directions.*

Ducati’s dirt-dipped with the Multistrada Enduro and Scrambler models, but the DesertX is quite a different beast altogether. It’s the result of the booming adventure-bike sub-segment of Dakar-styled ‘rally raid’ bikes, which we term Dakar-Lite (I’m patenting this – Ed.), and they pair less weight with more off-road capability.

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore -  side view profile
Dakar-Lite : Our tem for midweight adventure bikes with off-road chops that look like they could tackle the famous rally

The obvious existing examples are the Yamaha Tenere 700 and KTM 890 Adventure R, with even MV Agusta joining the party in the near future with its Lucky Explorer 9.5.  

Through that lens, the DesertX is positioned as a less powerful, and less heavy alternative to middleweight adventure bikes like the BMW F 850 GS or Triumph Tiger, and could appeal to those who want touring ability plus more off-road capability in a lighter, easier-to-handle package.

Also we’ve published our review just in time: The DesertX officially launches in Singapore on Saturday, August 2022, at the Ducati showroom with an OTR price of S$58,700.

*Alliteration by Derryn Wong


2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore -  front 3/4 view headlights

Adventure bikes are such a rich vein these days that bike brands can mine the same seam. The DesertX has very obvious shades of the Cagiva Elefant, the defunct Italian marque’s Dakar-winning adventure bike precursor. Cagiva’s heritage now lies closest with MV Agusta (‘Ca’ in Cagiva stands for MV founder Castiglioni) but Ducati did supply the Elefant’s heart, a 904cc Desmodromic V-twin. 

That’s why the DesertX has been styled to unabashedly reference that race machine with its twin circular LED headlights (with DRLs), vertically-canted styling, large 21-in front wheel, and tubeless spoked wheels.

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear 3/4 view exhaust studio static

But even on paper, you can’t accuse Ducati of making a bike that just looks like it can hack it off-road. The X has an impressive load capacity of 240kg, and on paper, the standard 21-litre fuel tank is already good for over 350km. Ducati offers an additional eight-litre auxiliary tank that mounts on the tail of the bike, too. 

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - cockpit 5.0-inch display screen
The cockpit has a vertical 5.0-inch TFT display with clear graphics and it’s easy to read when standing on the pegs.

The rally-style, vertically-mounted 5.0-inch TFT colour display is particularly legible when standing up, and this is important not just because it looks cool, but due to the plethora of riding aids and systems onboard.

There are six riding modes : Wet, Urban, Touring, Sport, Enduro, and Rally. The last is a new mode for Ducati bikes, and gives you full power with less electronic intervention for off-roading. Completing the electronics package are the rider assistance systems including Traction Control, Wheelie Control, Engine Brake Control, Cornering ABS, Quickshifter Up & Down and Cruise Control.

Fighting Dirty

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - Ducati Riding Experience DRE

Ducati calls the DesertX a proper off-road bike, unlike the Multistrada or Desert Sled, and it’s not kicking up dust with those claims. It’s new from the ground up, with long-travel, manually-adjustable KYB suspension (more than 220mm front and rear) and proper off-road wheels (21-inch front and 18-inch rear), wearing specially developed Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres.

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - Ducati Riding Experience offroad

The only thing in common between the DesertX and the Multistrada V2 is the 110hp 937cc engine, which has been tuned for low to mid grunt, along with shorter gear ratio (first to third) and a larger rear sprocket, for more low end punch. As part of the development process, Ducati enlisted multiple Enduro World Champion and Dakar Rally stage winner Antoine Meo. 

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - Ducati Riding Experience offroad
‘Don’t consume crack before riding’ said our instructor. Probably.

We got a sampling of the X off-road at the DRE Adventure demonstration course at Misano Circuit during World Ducati Week 2022, comprising obstacle stations and a dirt track. The X was unfazed over the obstacles, its pliant but composed KYB suspension soaking up the hits even as we increased the approach speed. Over dirt, the X was confidence inspiring, communicating grip levels clearly, and allowing controlled slides over the dusty surface.

We even got to test the front wheel ABS during an emergency braking situation, the bike stopping in an impressively short distance with minimal lockup. A fellow journo had to emergency brake in a turn. On the dirt, that’s a surefire way to tuck the front. But to his surprise, the front wheel didn’t wash out.

2022 Ducati DesertX Review - CarBuyer Singapore - Ducati Riding Experience offroad

The conditions on the course were not extreme, but we found the X to be newbie-friendly with its balance, neutral handling, and peppy power delivery making clearing obstacles that bit easier. We’re no Dakar Gods, but the DesertX surely flattered our off-road abilities, and could be a real off-road weapon in professional hands. 

Page 2: But how does the DesertX handle tarmac?

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adventure adventure tourer dakar DesertX Ducati enduro midweight motorcycle offroad Rally Raid

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CarBuyer Team

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